Small but mighty: Modern marketing for the midmarket

By Lisa Loftis, SAS Best Practices

In the age of the so-called tech titans – including Amazon, Ebay and Google – midmarket companies are under increasing pressure to stay competitive. Why?

Because the tech titans have used massive budgets and technology infrastructure to personalize every customer interaction. However, while the playing field might not always be level, midmarket companies do have a significant impact on the US economy.

According to the US Census Bureau, the midmarket is a juggernaut that employs 41 million people, accounts for 33 percent of the US private sector GDP (approximately $3.8 trillion), and provides a stable source of growth, adding significantly more jobs during the last recession than large companies, according to a study by GE Capital and The Ohio State University.

And they do it all despite operating on smaller budgets, having less access to sophisticated enterprise technology solutions and experiencing a distinct disadvantage in the fiercely competitive market for talented, experienced employees.

What the lion cannot manage to do the fox can.

German Proverb

 

Taking on the titans

Accustomed to their interactions with the tech titans, today’s customers expect consistent experiences across channels, personalized communications based on individual preferences and compelling reasons to remain loyal to a company.

Smaller size, budget and available resources do not alter the need to meet these mandates. Additionally, implementing multichannel strategies is not easy, and even the largest companies have difficulty when changing entrenched business processes, connecting siloed sales and service business units and streamlining customer experiences.

The midmarket’s path forward

Fortunately there is a clear way forward that starts with the marketing function. Leaders in the midmarket are focusing on optimizing marketing capabilities, capitalizing on inherent strengths and enhancing customer knowledge to enrich experiences and deepen relationships with customers.

Following are three key lessons gleaned from midmarket marketing teams who have taken on the titans, and won:

Adopt a Laser Focus

Email marketing, SEO, mobile applications, content generation, social media marketing and lead generation all present their own challenges.

Moreover, doing them all well on a limited budget is impossible. Instead, identify high-profile strategic objectives that marketing can execute against, prioritize them (ideally with the help of executive management) and then determine which marketing activities will be most effective.

If reacting to new competition is critical, then enhancing existing relationships through a targeted loyalty program might be the initial priority. Conversely, a goal of growing the customer base might indicate a focus on lead-generation activities such as content promotion and web enhancements. Either way, the goal should be to ensure marketing dollars are spent on activity that will make the most measurable difference to the company.

Leverage Inherent Strengths

The advantages that midmarket companies have over their larger competitors include agility, better relationships between business units, and deeper understanding of the communities they serve. Using these can be quite powerful.

For example, if growing the millennial customer base is the targeted strategic objective, marketing can use community relationships to support popular local charities, promote green energy practices, or provide low-waste packaging, a clear nod of the head to environmentally-conscious millennial segment.

Strong cross-functional business relationships can bring various business executives to the table to review business processes and enhance delivery speed.

Maximize Technology and Data

Companies actively using customer insights have little trouble meeting basic success measures including profit, growth and ROI. Despite constraints around technology budgets and limited resources, midmarket companies can likewise apply customer analytics to their marketing efforts. Cloud applications provide significant capabilities without the infrastructure burden. Visual analytic tools make analytics approachable without requiring statistical background. And integrated marketing toolsets from proven vendors can differentiate midmarket companies from small and large competitors alike.


Lisa Loftis

Lisa Loftis is a thought leader on the SAS Best Practices team. She focuses on customer intelligence was co-author of the book, Building the Customer Centric Enterprise, with a focus on modernizing marketing. She can be reached at Lisa.Loftis@sas.com.

 

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